The purpose of this guide is to make 2015 high school seniors and juniors aware of several of the healthcare careers they may begin upon graduation. Most of the featured jobs are available to anyone with a high school diploma, pay above minimum wage and require less than one year of professional training.

 

What Are Your Plans After Graduation?

High school graduation is one of the most- important events in your life. It represents both the end of childhood, and the freedom to chase your dreams. For many graduating seniors however, it can also be a time of great uncertainty.



College-bound grads may have the next several years of their life planned-out, but they face high college tuition costs and the prospect of taking on long-term debt in exchange for a four-year degree that offers less guarantee of employment than in years past (see Figure G below).

Source: Economic Policy Institute.

Meanwhile, those who don’t go to college face one of the toughest U.S. job markets for high school graduates in decades. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the unemployment rate for 20 to 24 year old high school grads with no college degree was 17.5% in 2013.

Despite these discouraging statistics, there are some industries hiring both recent college and high school graduates in record numbers. The fastest-growing of these – healthcare – is expected to account for nearly one-third of all new jobs created in the U.S. through 2022.

Five Reasons to Consider Healthcare Careers

Thanks to the combination of an aging population and a dramatic increase in the number of Americans who now carry health insurance, our nation’s healthcare system is experiencing the greatest expansion in its history. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that nearly one-in-eight Americans will be employed in the healthcare industry by 2022.

Here are five reasons why you may want to consider a career in healthcare.

Lots of opportunity

As mentioned, the healthcare industry is hiring! Whether you just graduated from high school and want to find a job quickly, or are planning on attending college and starting your career later, there are multiple positions in healthcare that may suit your goals.

Make a difference – help others

Knowing that your work matters and that you make a difference is one of the keys to happiness in any job. Because healthcare professionals spend their time caring for others, over 77% of those who work in this field say they are satisfied with what they do.

Room to grow

For those who want to see their work recognized with opportunities for advancement and better pay, the healthcare industry is ideal. Moving up the ladder still requires time and training, on-the-job training and additional education (often paid for by the employer) are relatively easy to come by compared to most industries.

Good earning potential

Enjoying your job is great, but earning a good salary is just as important to most people. The median personal income for all Americans was $42,693 when the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis last released its official numbers in 2012.

Many entry-level healthcare jobs available to college graduates start at or above this figure. Positions filled by high school graduates usually pay above minimum wage and allow for advancement into this pay range as well.

Fast-paced, exciting work

For those who want the challenge of working in a fast-paced environment, any current healthcare professional will tell you that the medical industry is a perfect fit. Expect to handle multiple tasks at once and be on the move throughout the workday.

Top 15 Healthcare Careers for 2015 High School Graduates

The following healthcare careers do not require four-year college degrees and are available to high school graduates. Some require applicants to complete an accredited training program.

1. Personal Care Aides

Projected Growth Through 2022: 49%

What They Do:

Personal Care AidesPersonal care aides are home care providers who provide homebound patients (usually senior citizens) with companionship and help with their personal grooming, housekeeping, meal preparation and other basic tasks around the house.

How Much They Make:

2013 Median U.S. Salary – $20,100 ($9.67/hour)

Required Education:

No formal educational requirements exist, but most employers require applicants to have a high school diploma. On-the-job training is usually provided.

2. Home Health Aides

Projected Growth Through 2022: 48%

Home Health Aides

What They Do:

Home health aides provide basic care for patients in their place of residence. They typically help clients who are physically or cognitively disabled or suffering from long-term illness. The HHA assists with the same tasks performed by personal care aides, but is sometimes also required to give medication and check vital signs.

How Much They Make:

2013 Median U.S. Salary – $21,000 ($10.10/hour)

Required Education:

Home health aides are required to complete a formal training class (75 hours in most states) in order to work for a certified agency. State-by-state requirements can be viewed here.

To learn more about Home Health Aide training requirements, click here.

3. Physical Therapist Aides

Projected Growth Through 2022: 40%

What They Do:

Physical Therapist Aides

Physical therapist aides work under the supervision of a physical therapist to help patients regain their mobility after an injury or illness. They typically work at the therapist’s office or a hospital.

How Much They Make:

2013 Median U.S. Salary – $24,300 ($11.69/hour)

Required Education:

Physical therapist aides are usually required to have a high school diploma, but no other formal education requirements exist. Most employers provide on-the-job training.

To learn more about becoming a physical therapist aide, we refer you to this resource provided by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy.



4. Occupational Therapy Aides

Projected Growth Through 2022: 36%

What They Do:

Occupational Therapy AidesOccupational therapy aides work under the direction of an occupational therapist to help patients develop and regain the physical skills required to perform their jobs. They are employed at an occupational therapy office, nursing care facility or hospital.

How Much They Make:

2013 Median U.S. Salary – $26,400 ($12.67/hour)

Required Education:

Occupational therapy aides are not required to have any formal education, but most employers do require a high school diploma. On-the-job training is provided by most employers.

For more information on careers as an occupational therapy aide, please visit The American Occupational Therapy Association.

5. Medical Secretaries

Projected Growth Through 2022: 36%

What They Do:

Medical Secretaries

Medical secretaries are responsible for performing basic clerical and administrative tasks in a medical office, hospital or clinic. Responsibilities include answering phones, making appointments, taking messages and managing paperwork.

How Much They Make:

2013 Median U.S. Salary – $31,900 ($15.33/hour)

Required Education:

Most employers require medical secretaries to have a high school diploma, but will provide on-the-job training. No additional formal education is usually required for these positions.

6. Surgical Technologists

Projected Growth Through 2022: 30%

What They Do:

Surgical Technologist

Surgical technologists prepare operating rooms with sterile materials and equipment and assist surgeons during procedures. They are employed in hospitals.

How Much They Make:

2013 Median U.S. Salary – $42,700 ($20.54/hour)

Required Education:

Becoming a surgical technologist requires the completion of an accredited training program (usually nine to 15 months in length). Some states also require the surgical technologist to pass a certification exam prior to becoming eligible for employment.

Learn more about working as a surgical technologist through The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting.

7. Medical Assistants

Projected Growth Through 2022: 29%

What They Do:

Medical Assistants

Medical assistants perform a variety of tasks in the offices of health practitioners. These tasks may include a combination of clinical and administrative activities.

How Much They Make:

2013 Median U.S. Salary – $29,600 ($14.24/hour)

Required Education:

Although it is possible to find medical assisting jobs with only a high school diploma, the majority of employers require applicants to have completed an accredited training program. These programs range in length from 12 to 24 months.

Click here to learn more about careers in medical assisting through the American Association of Medical Assistants.

8. Phlebotomists

Projected Growth Through 2022: 27%

What They Do:

PhlebotomistsPhlebotomists are medical specialists who draw blood from patients in hospitals, physician’s offices and laboratories. They also prepare samples for testing and collect blood for donation centers.

How Much They Make:

2013 Median U.S. Salary – $30,200 ($14.50/hour)

Required Education:

Due to the sensitive nature of their work, phlebotomists must complete an accredited phlebotomy training program and hold a certification in order to become eligible to work.

The National Healthcare Association provides a guide to working as a certified phlebotomist here.

9. Licensed Practical and Vocational Nurses

Projected Growth Through 2022: 25%

What They Do:

Licensed Practical NursesWorking under the supervision of a registered nurse (RN) or doctor, the licensed practical nurse (LPN) and licensed vocational nurse (LVN) performs basic medical care tasks for patients in a variety of settings. Responsibilities include taking vital signs, collecting specimens for testing and administering medications.

How Much They Make:

2013 Median U.S. Salary – $41,900 ($20.15/hour)



Required Education:

LPNs and LVNs must complete a 12-month training program and be licensed in their state of employment in order to work.

To learn more about becoming an LPN or LVN, please refer to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing website.

10. Dental Assistants

Projected Growth Through 2022: 25%

What They Do:

Dental AssistantsDental assistants support dentists and dental hygienists in a variety of patient care tasks at the dentist’s office. Their responsibilities include administrative duties such as recordkeeping and scheduling appointments, as well as clinical ones such as taking x-rays.

How Much They Make:

2013 Median U.S. Salary – $34,900 ($16.78/hour)

Required Education:

Educational requirements for becoming a dental assistant vary from state-to-state. Some require the completion of an accredited training program and holding a professional certification, while others have no formal requirement.

Find out about state-by-state certification requirements at the Dental Assisting National Board website.

11. EMTs and Paramedics

Projected Growth Through 2022: 23%

What They Do:

EMTs and ParamedicsUsually one of the first responders on the scene when someone is injured or becomes seriously ill, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics are responsible for performing mobile emergency medical services.

How Much They Make:

2013 Median U.S. Salary – $31,300 ($15.04/hour)

Required Education:

Both EMTs and paramedics are required to complete an accredited training program and become licensed in their state of employment. The length of EMT and paramedic programs varies considerably, with some lasting as little as three weeks, and others requiring a year to finish.

Learn about EMT and paramedic licensing requirement in each state by visiting the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians here.

12. Massage Therapists

Projected Growth Through 2022: 23%

What They Do:

Massage TherapistsMassage therapists treat patients for pain and stress while helping them recover from injuries through the manipulation of the body’s soft tissue muscles. They work in a wide range of settings, including spas, therapist’s offices, fitness centers and hospitals.

How Much They Make:

2013 Median U.S. Salary – $35,900 ($17.27/hour)

Required Education:

Becoming a massage therapist requires completing a formal training program (usually of at least 500 hours combined study and work experience). Most states also require therapists to hold a professional license.

Find out about the certification requirements in each state through this resource provided by the American Massage Therapy Association.

13. Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

Projected Growth Through 2022: 22%

What They Do:

Medical Records and Health Information TechniciansCommonly referred to as medical billing and coding professionals, medical records and health information technicians record, organize and manage patients’ healthcare data. They review documents for accuracy, transcribe information into appropriate coding systems and interact with insurance companies for billing purposes. They usually work in hospitals and doctors’ private offices.

How Much They Make:

2013 Median U.S. Salary – $35,000 ($16.81/hour)

Required Education:

In order to work in the medical records and health information field, you must first complete an accredited training program and earn a professional certification. Programs usually take between four months and a year to complete.

Find out more about careers in medical health information through the American Health Information Management Association.

14. Nursing Assistants

Projected Growth Through 2022: 21%

What They Do:

Nursing AssistantsNursing assistants, also known as CNAs (certified nursing assistants) or nurse aides provide basic direct patient care in hospitals and assisted living facilities. They provide many of the same services as home health aides, but are also responsible for limited medical care tasks.

How Much They Make:

2013 Median U.S. Salary – $24,900 ($11.97/hour)

Required Education:

Nursing assistants must complete an approved CNA training program and pass their state’s certification test in order to become eligible to work. Courses usually last between three and six months.

For additional information on nursing assistant certification requirements by state, please visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.



15. Pharmacy Technicians

Projected Growth Through 2022: 20%

What They Do:

Pharmacy TechniciansPharmacy technicians work under the direct supervision of pharmacists to assist with dispensing prescription medications. They work in grocery stores, drug stores, hospitals and any other place that has a licensed pharmacy.

How Much They Make:

2013 Median U.S. Salary – $29,600 ($14.25/hour)

Required Education:

Most states require pharmacy technicians to complete an accredited pharmacy program and pass a licensing exam prior to becoming eligible to work. There are some, however, that require only a high school diploma and allow the individual to complete his or her training with the employer.

The National Health career Association provides the following overview of pharmacy technician certification requirements by state.

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